GAP and C&O Canal Path Bike Tour
Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Path Gravel Adventure
The GAP/C&O are two of the premier gravel route bike tours in the USA, showing off our Rails-to-trails system, traveling from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC. These two combine for 335 miles of great car-free trails, with tons of local history, charm and cultural aspects. The GAP is a well-maintained crushed limestone trail with a max incline of around 3%. It crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. The C&O follows the tow path that was used to move coal from PA to DC via barges and a system of locks along the canal route. Both routes are part of the linear national park that goes the distance of the two combined routes.
Bicycle recommendations for this trip are a hybrid or gravel grinder with tires of at least 28 mm in width. The C&O can be muddy in spots, so that is something to think about, as well. Due to some tunnels over 3000 feet in length, headlights and rear taillights are required.
We will shuttle from the hotel to downtown Pittsburgh. Our starting location is the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. We will ride along the Monongahela, until we reach the split off at Youghiogheny River, in McKeesport. Our first day ends in the town of Collinsville.
Our next day continues along the GAP, going through the small towns of Ohiopyle, Ft. Hill and Rockwood, and spending the night in Meyersdale.
Day 3 takes us to the Eastern Continental Divide at 2,392 feet. While this is our longest day, 23 miles of the travels today are downhill. We complete our adventure on the GAP today, and cross the road and begin our trek on the C&O. There is a noticeable change in the trail and also the scenery, as we are now traveling alongside the Potomac River. Today we go through the 3,100 foot Paw Paw tunnel. We rest and relax in the town of Little Orleans, MD.
As we ride today, we pass by 17 locks and a variety of aqueducts and dams to get the most use out of the power of water. We also see Ft. Frederick, one of the oldest stone forts in the US, dating back to 1756. The fort was used in the French and Indian War, War of 1812, and the Civil War. We will stay at the Bavarian Inn, in Shepherdstown, WV.
While the distances are short today, the route is designed to provide as much sightseeing time as you would like. The route takes you through Antietam National Battlefield, spot of the greatest loss of American lives in one day, and then on to Harpers Ferry, a focal point for travel and commerce during the Civil War, as it sits on the banks of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. This town is also the midway point for the Appalachian Trail which travels from GA to ME. Harpers Ferry is where 8 national treasures converge:
- Journey through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area
- Washington Heritage Trail National Scenic Byway
- Appalachian Trail
- Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
- Potomac Heritage National Trail
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
- Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
- Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area
Our last day takes us from the rural areas of Maryland to the hustle and bustle of our nation’s capital, Washington DC. Mile 0 is very close to the National Monuments. As we end our journey in DC, we suggest you add some additional days here to check out the history and workings of Washington, DC. We will provide transportation to Ronald Reagan International Airport for those who are ready to return home.
Recreational – Intermediate
- If flying in, make your reservations to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). Airport pick up will be at baggage claim by 2pm.
- When flying out, airport drop off will be by 4pm at Ronald Reagan International Airport.
- Do not make reservations before 5pm.
- If you are driving to our starting hotel location, please arrive by 3pm in time for our bike fitting, social hour and orientation dinner.
All meals are included
All lodging is included
- All lodging
- Transfers to and from the airport
- All breakfasts, dinners and picnic lunches on riding days
- Cocktail social hours on the 1st evening of each tour
- Van support
- GPS mapping
- 2 or more experienced guides
This is a point to point trip: Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC. Please make the correct travel arrangements.
- 2021 Dates To Be Determined
- 6 Days/6 Nights
Pittsburgh to Collinsville60 miles; 1450 ft
Collinsville to Meyersdale57 miles; 2977 ft
Meyersdale, PA to Little Orleans, MD76 miles; 1749 ft
Little Orleans, MD to Shepherdstown, WV69 miles; 940 ft
Shepherdstown, WV to Harpers Ferry, WV, via Antietam National Battleground28 miles; 1038 ft
Harpers Ferry, WV to Georgetown (Washington, DC)63 miles; 618 ft